This talk provides an overview of the various populist strains of engagement with environmental crises. Beginning with pro-business climate denialism and moving to the surprising overlap between left and far-right ecological activism in Europe, I will show how these strains are not limited to one ideological viewpoint. Examples of nationalist, agrarian, nativist, traditionalist, and protectionist viewpoints will fill this discussion with a common thread of fear-based thinking. Examples of left-wing environmental populism further complicate the picture but arise from a more critical position. I will then trace the history of illiberal environmentalism through the Nazi period in Germany to contemporary appropriations of “deep ecology,” with several examples from popular culture that make this ideology more appealing than it might at first appear. Finally, I will invite all to discuss the Malthusian temptations implicit in wishing for a cleaner, less crowded, more protected planet.
Lecturer Dr Heidi Hart, a senior researcher at the ECPS and Linnaeus University (Sweden), is a researcher and educator based in the US and Scandinavia. She holds a Ph.D. in German Studies from Duke University and focuses on intersections of the arts and politics, including environmental crisis. She is currently a guest researcher at SixtyEight Art Institute in Copenhagen, where she has contributed curatorial work on climate art, and at the Linnaeus University Center for Intermedial and Multimodal Studies, where she is completing the research project “Instruments of Repair.”
Moderator João Ferreira Dias holds a Ph.D. in African Studies from ISCTE-Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (2016). He is a researcher at the International Studies Centre of ISCTE (CEI-ISCTE) in the research group Democracy, Activism, and Citizenship. He is also an associate researcher at the History Centre of the University of Lisbon and a member of the research network of the European Center for Populism Studies. He is a regular columnist in leading newspapers of the Portuguese press. His areas of research and interest are: Religious Anthropology (Yorùbá, Candomblé, Umbanda, rituals, thought patterns, politics of memory and authenticity), Political Science (culture wars, identity politics, nostalgia and politics of memory and nationalism, populism) and Constitutional Law (Constitutional Principles, Fundamental Rights, Religious Freedom).